Eye drops: see lubricant, anesthetic and more options

If a small speck, when it enters the eye, is already quite uncomfortable, imagine when there is a more prolonged condition affecting the vision, such as irritation or dryness.

It is not difficult to suffer from these symptoms, as dust, pollution, the use of cosmetic products and even the use of contact lenses can cause redness, itching and that persistent feeling of dry eyes.

But, in addition, there are more serious conditions that require specific care, such as eye allergies, infections or degenerative vision diseases.

These cases have one thing in common: they will possibly cause the patient to have to carry a small bottle of eye drops.

But make no mistake, as the uses and indications are quite different.


What are eye drops?

Eye drops are solutions to be applied to the eyes, in order to treat or relieve any symptom or condition that may affect the ocular structure.

According to Dr. Liliane Back Ferré, an ophthalmologist at the Hospital de Olhos do Paraná, “ any eye drops instilled in the eyes or eyelids is considered a medicine ”, even though it has different purposes.

They will act locally, on the surface or inside the eyes, with absorption very quickly. In general, the eye drops remain in contact with the eye for a maximum of 5 minutes.

Although all eyedrops are intended for ocular application, it is not possible to generalize, as each has a specific purpose – it may be just to lubricate the eyes, but it may be to treat serious conditions, such as glaucoma .

Therefore, care with the use of the product is essential.

And there’s no way: the need, frequency of use and choice of product (due to the active ingredient) can only be determined by the ophthalmologist.

Types: eye drops are not all the same!

The bottles may look similar, but the indications are quite different – from lubrication to antibacterial action. According to the pharmacist and PhD in Pharmacology Francielle Tatiana Mathias, they are used depending on the disease or ophthalmic problem.

Therefore, they are not all the same and only the ophthalmologist can indicate the right eye drops. Know each type:

Artificial tears or lubricants

They are substances very close to the composition of the natural tears, produced by the organism. In general, they serve to humidify, lubricate and protect the eyes.

They can be indicated for people who wear contact lenses or spend many hours in front of the computer, for example. This is because such factors can accentuate the dryness of the eyes.

That is, artificial tears are recommended to relieve symptoms of dry eye .

In general, there are no side effects due to prolonged use, but it is always important that the ophthalmologist assess the necessary frequency of use.

Among the brands of ocular lubricants is Systane UL , which acts by relieving and moisturizing the ocular surface and returning or replacing tear substances that may be missing.

In addition, lubricants can be indicated for people with changes in the production of tears, which is a condition called xerophthalmia, or even in cases of keratitis or allergic conjunctivitis .

In such cases, the medical indication is essential.

Read more: Review Eye Drops Systane UL: what is it for, how does it work, is it good?

Vasoconstrictor or ocular decongestant

In general, this type of eye drops is indicated to improve the redness of the eyes, due to irritation , because it works by constricting the blood vessels, which makes the eyes whiter.

In general, they are safe to use and there are not so many contraindications, such as corticosteroids, but people who wear contact lenses or have a disease (such as glaucoma or diabetes ) should use them only with a prescription.

However, even in those who do not have any risk factors, frequent use can cause the action of constricting blood vessels to lose its effect.

“ What happens to those who use a lot of vasoconstrictors, is a rebound vasodilation. You drip the drops, the vase gets tiny, so when the effect wears off, the vase gets bigger than if you hadn’t used it. Hence you have that dependency, as with nasal decongestants , ”says ophthalmologist Dr. Michel Rubin.

It is also worth mentioning that vasoconstrictors only treat the symptom of redness. That is, they deal with the consequence and not the cause of the problem.

Among the options, there are Moura Brasil and Colírio Teuto.

Eye drops with antibiotic

This drug needs a prescription, just like any other antibiotic. It is indicated to treat bacterial infections , in very specific cases, such as bacterial conjunctivitis, blepharitis and keratitis.

In general, its application occurs at programmed time intervals, such as every 4 hours.

Among the options, there are the Zymar XD and Oflox.

Corticosteroid eye drops (anti-inflammatory)

Corticosteroid medications are indicated for inflammation, promoting anti-inflammatory action against conditions such as uveitis and viral conjunctivitis .

The amount and frequency of use should be guided by the doctor, depending on the patient’s condition.

Although they are very functional in relieving symptoms, such as irritation and redness, corticosteroids should be used for a limited time and only under medical guidance.

Among the options, there are Maxidex and Decadron.


Formulated with antihistamine substances, the eye drops for allergy reduce itching, redness and watering due to allergic reactions .

They act by controlling the action of histamine (a substance released in allergic reactions) and are indicated, for example, to improve the discomfort or irritation caused by allergic conjunctivitis.

Among the options, can be Zaditen and Cromolerg.

Read more: What are the options for antiallergic eye drops?


Anesthetic eye drops are indicated to help reduce local pain, reducing sensitivity .

Although its application and absorption is the same as the other types – staying in contact with the ocular structure for a short time – its action tends to be more prolonged.

It is usually used in medical procedures, such as surgery or exams.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Dry, red eyes: lubricants or decongestants?

Many conditions can make your eyes irritated, dry and red. A few hours in the air conditioner or climate change can affect the eye structure.

Often, those who suffer from this resort to eye drops on the shelves of the pharmacy to reduce the irritated and reddened appearance of the eyes.

But without a doctor’s appointment, it is not difficult to confuse decongestant eye drops with lubricants.

Although both can reduce redness, the mechanism of action is quite different – and so are the indications.

The lubricant is similar to the natural tear, so it will moisturize the area and relieve the redness caused by irritation.

The product works by eliminating the cause of the problem, which is the lack of lubrication, therefore, those other symptoms of annoyance and difficulty in blinking are improved as well.

Decongestants, on the other hand, promote a vasoconstrictive action. That is, they reduce the dilation of blood vessels and relieve redness.

But, as they usually lack lubricating capacity, they will not solve the cause of the problem, just mask the symptoms.

In addition, lubricants can, in general, be used with contact lenses and in a prolonged way, being well tolerated by most patients.

However, decongestants cannot be applied to contact lenses, their use should be limited and side effects are more common, which can cause more eye irritation.

Read more: What is eye fatigue?

What are the presentations of the eye drops?

Although the solutions are more common, there are other presentations. According to the pharmacist and PhD in Pharmacology Francielle Tatiana Mathias, the presentations are defined according to the function and the need for action of the medication (for example, to stay in contact with the eyes longer).

Know more:

Eye Solutions

Aqueous solutions are products with a homogeneous aspect, that is, they mix so that all substances are uniformly diluted. They are produced in water, with a transparent and very fluid presentation.

The solutions are the most common – they represent the majority of eye drops found on drugstore shelves.

They are easily applied and generate less, if any, discomfort compared to ointments, for example.

Some options closely associated with the solutions are lubricants, which, depending on the patient’s need, can be used more frequently.


Suspensions can be aqueous or oily medications that have particles that cannot be diluted into the solution.

If you leave the drops for a while, you can see that phases or separation in the content are forming, so it is necessary to shake well before using.

The oily option has the advantage of being absorbed more slowly. That is, this makes the bioavailability, or the time of contact with the eye drops, greater, which may reduce the need for reapplication.


They are liquids that contain parts that are not diluted in the liquid. They can be oily components, for example. It is important to shake the product well before applying.

What is an eye drop for?

The action of the medication and the side effects depend a lot on the type of eye drops.

For example, antibiotics will have very different mechanisms of action and reaction from those that are just lubricants.

But in common, they can generate symptoms that improve visual comfort, such as:

Relieves eye discomfort

The components of eye drops are able to be deposited on the surface of the eyes without causing great discomfort or, when some discomfort (usually mild) occurs, it is quickly dispersed.

As the eye drops act by decreasing the friction between the eyeball and the mucous membranes, that feeling that there is some dirt or speck in the eyes is lessened.

Improves dryness (dry eye)

The tear film, also called a tear, is a liquid produced to lubricate and protect the eyes. More than avoiding friction between the eyelid and the surface of the eye, the tear film takes nutrients and protects the region from contamination, such as bacteria.

Therefore, changes in tear production, the use of contact lenses or staying in the air conditioner for a long time can increase the dryness of the eyes – a condition that can be relieved with the use of eye lubricants.

Eye drops improve lubrication as they contain specific components that are similar to natural tears.

Thus, they balance and provide the eyes with the necessary substances for hydration, and act to protect the mucous membranes, moisturizing and relieving irritations caused mainly by pollution, dust or other irritating agents, which can cause dryness.

Read more: Migraine and dry eye: they may be related

Reduces irritation and redness

The lack of tear hydration can cause irritation and redness, making the eyes itchy and burning.

In some cases, the redness is due to eye irritation due to dust or dirt.

It is worth noting that lubricating eye drops can reduce redness by mechanisms different from vasoconstrictor drugs, as they do not affect the dilation of blood vessels.

Reduces the feeling of tiredness

Often, tiredness is the result of the dry or irritated eye.

Especially those who spend many hours in the air conditioning or in front of the computer can suffer from this sensation, as the tendency is for the person to blink less throughout the day, which affects the lubrication and disposition of tears in the eyeball.

Therefore, hydration can relieve eye strain as well.

When to use eye drops?

Eye drops can be indicated for several conditions, ranging from maintaining eye hydration to treating diseases such as glaucoma.

Although eye drops are often easily found and purchased at pharmacies, it is important that they are always used with the guidance of a specialist, as they can camouflage the symptoms of illness and delay diagnosis.

This is because, for example, the redness and itching may be the result of pollution only, but they may also be signs of an infection.

With the irregular use of decongestant eye drops, the most obvious symptoms are alleviated and the diagnosis can be delayed.

Dry eye syndrome

The reduction in the adequate production of tears can affect the lubrication and health of the eyes and is related to several causes, such as staying in air-conditioned environments or changes due to age.

This condition, called dry eye syndrome, causes irritation, redness, uncomfortable blinking and even sensitivity to light.

The condition can be alleviated with lubricating eye drops.


cataract is a progressive condition that affects the lens (eye layer). Gradually, the region becomes opaque and, as a result, vision is impaired, which can result in complete damage to the structure (which generates blindness).

In general, the condition requires surgery, and after the procedure, the use of eye drops is quite important.

Among the options is Pyrenoxin, which is indicated to prevent the progression of the disease and also after the surgical procedure.


The condition is characterized by progressive degeneration of the eye structure, causing loss of vision.

As it is not possible to recover or reverse the damage caused to the vision, the treatment consists of stopping the progression of the disease.

Among the substances that can be indicated are Brimonidine Dextrotartarate and Timolol Maleate, which act by reducing intraocular pressure.

Read more: Glaucoma: what it is, symptoms and treatment


Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea (ocular structure). It is usually related to bacteria or viruses and can be treated with the use of lubricating eye drops and, if indicated, antibacterials.

Dexamethasone-based drugs may be indicated.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is a very common eye reaction, usually with a seasonal incidence. That is, sensitive people may experience symptoms in changing seasons due to changes in climate or air humidity.

Among the options is the association of the substances Epinastine Hydrochloride and Ketotifen Fumarate.

Infectious conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can also be of bacterial or viral origin, considered infectious.

Antibiotic eye drops are only needed in cases of bacterial conjunctivitis, while viral is treated with lubricating and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops and corticosteroids.

Among the substances for allergic or viral conjunctivitis is the corticoid dexamethasone, while for the bacterial there is the antibiotic chloramphenicol.

You specify

Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, capable of causing redness, sensitivity to light, pain and changes in vision.

In general, treatment consists of corticosteroid eye drops, such as dexamethasone, which may be associated with the use of antibiotics or antivirals.

Among the options is, for example, Cyclosporine and the combination of Tobramycin + Dexamethasone.


The stye is characterized by a protrusion, similar to a lump, which appears close to the eyelid.

The condition is the result of inflammation of glands located in the region, which can cause pain, redness and heat in the area.

In general, the condition does not last for many days and tends to improve on its own, but when it lasts for a long time, the use of eye medications, such as ointments based on Dexamethasone, may be indicated.

Where does the eye drops go after being applied?

Soon after being dripped into the eyes, a part of the medication is absorbed by the eye structure (cornea, conjunctiva and sclerotic). However, the other part is guided, through the tear ducts, until it reaches the throat and airways.

As the eyelids push the medicine into the corner of the eye, it penetrates the tear point (that corner of the eye) and runs down the nose, down the throat.

That is to say, that is why, sometimes, when we drop eye drops we also taste the medicine.

In general, the drug is absorbed by the systemic circulation, causing it to fall into the bloodstream, present in the nasal mucosa.

How to use?

Those who use eye drops, especially lubricants, usually need to apply them several times a day.

Therefore, knowing the correct way to use and knowing some important precautions to avoid risks of contamination is very important.

To apply correctly, it is important to keep your hands clean and dry. When handling, avoid touching the drip tip to avoid contamination.

Before applying, always read the package insert and check the need to shake the product.

In addition, people who wear contact lenses need to check with the ophthalmologist about the need to remove the lenses before application.

  1. Tilt your head back slightly;
  2. Pull the lower eyelid with your fingers to form a small pouch;
  3. Apply a drop to the eyelid pouch;
  4. Release the eyelid and close your eyes;
  5. Squeeze the inner corner of the eyes (close to the nose), holding for a few seconds, so that the product is absorbed.

For application, avoid touching the bottle to your eyes, eyelashes or eyelids. Sometimes it is difficult to drip something in the eyes, so putting the liquid in the eyelid pouch and looking up can facilitate the correct placement of the medication.

Remember to close the packaging tightly to avoid contamination.

What are the risks of borrowing eye drops?

Who wears contact lenses should use eye drops?

Lenses are good options for those who want to dispense with glasses. They can be very useful and make life easier for those who don’t want to deal with the frame.

However, the use can lead to specific needs and care, such as the use of eye drops or solutions that maintain the lubrication of the eyes.

Especially those who spend many hours with the lens may suffer from the sensation of dry, tired and burning eyes.

In addition to being attentive to the use of the lens – not sleeping with them and, if possible, alternating with the use of glasses – some eye drops can be combined to maintain eye lubrication and prevent the eyes from being tired at the end of the day.

That is, yes, anyone who wears lenses can use eye drops . But before going to the pharmacy, you need to have medical advice as there are only a few specific products that can be dripped.

According to the ophthalmologist, Dr. Michel Rubin, “we try to use eye drops without preservatives or with preservatives that will not harm the contact lens. With these suitable eye drops it is not necessary to remove the lens ”.

In general, they are those that lubricate the eyes, similar to natural tears, and can be used throughout the day, next to the lenses.

Those other drugs, which act as treatments, should not be dripped when the lenses are in place, as they can damage the product or even affect the medication action.

How and where to store the eye drops?

Respecting the expiration date is important so that eye drops do not pose health risks. But, in addition, medicines must always be stored in places protected from the sun, moisture and always in the original packaging.

Price of the most popular eye drops

Found in physical and online pharmacies, eye drops have price ranges according to purpose, presentation and brand.

To find the best deals, you can use the Drug Reminder price comparison .

Among the most popular options are:

Systane UL

The medication is of the lubricating eye drops type, reducing discomfort, improving hydration and maintaining the necessary lubrication. Its indication is for relief of dry eye symptoms.

It can be found, on average, between R $ 20 and R $ 30.

Moura Brazil

The eye drops act as an irritant softener, being of the vasoconstrictor type (decongestant). The indication is for irritations caused by external agents, such as dust and smoke.

On average, the price varies between R $ 10 and R $ 18.


Eye drops are a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory, based on dexamethasone, indicated to fight inflammatory reactions such as keratitis or conjunctivitis.

The price range is between R $ 9 and R $ 12.


The drug is an antibiotic agent, which acts to fight bactericidal infections.

It is possible to find the Tobrex version ophthalmological solution, in the price range of R $ 25.


Eye drops are an association of antibiotics with corticosteroids, being indicated for inflammatory conditions accompanied or at risk of bactericidal infection.

It can be found in the Maxitrol suspension version, in the range of R $ 15.


Found in the version Cilodex suspension and Cilodex ointment, the eye drops have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory action based on corticosteroids.

Both are on average R $ 32.


Eye drops have anti-inflammatory action, but without the use of corticosteroids. Based on diclofenac sodium, the drug can be found for around R $ 11.

Side effects

In general, lubricating eye drops do not have many undesirable or adverse effects. Unless the person is sensitive or allergic to the components of the formula, use is well tolerated, as long as it is done under medical guidance.

In some cases, itching or irritation may occur, causing red eyes and blurred vision. In such cases, the use must be suspended and the doctor must be informed.

Less frequently, watering may also intensify due to irritation.

What are the risks of antiallergic eye drops?

Like other antihistamine drugs, eye drops can cause drowsiness, sluggish reflexes, irritation, edema (swelling) in the eyelids, in addition to accentuating dryness.

What are the risks of vasoconstrictor eye drops?

This type of medication is associated with the appearance of cardiac changes, elevated blood pressure, accelerated cataracts or, even, more serious eye pathological precipitations such as glaucoma due to the presence of corticosteroids, as pointed out by ophthalmologist Liliane Back Ferré.

Over time, permanent damage to the optic nerve can occur, leading to reduced or loss of vision.

Common adverse symptoms can include eye redness, itching, headaches, blurred vision and nausea.

In addition, prolonged use can cause the effects to be gradually reduced, decreasing the action of substances in the body.

What are the risks of antibiotic eye drops?

In addition to allergies and sensitivities, which can aggravate eye irritation and sensitivity, antibiotic eye drops can cause immunity to fall or create resistance from the infectious agent, making future bacterial infections more difficult to fight.

What are the risks of artificial tears?

In general, there are two factors to be considered as dangerous.

The first refers to allergies to the components. Thus, when there is sensitivity, redness or discomfort may occur when applying the product.

However, another important factor that deserves a lot of attention is the possibility of masking the eye problem.

When eye drops are used without a prescription, they can minimize symptoms, making diagnoses late.

Associated Tips and Treatments

Whether to optimize the action of eye drops or to improve comfort when vision is tired (and there is no medical indication for the use of the drug), some options can be quite effective.

Simple measures that help to prevent infections, reduce the risk of allergies and eye irritations can be adopted and improve eye health.

Remove makeup

Those who use makeup or cosmetic products, especially in the eye area, may be more likely to suffer from eye irritation.

And it doesn’t have to be exactly the eye pencil, passed in the waterline or close to the lashes. Any product that is close to the eyelid can generate sensitivity.

Therefore, before going to sleep, it is ideal to clean the skin and the eyelash region thoroughly.

The use of suitable products, such as astringents, makeup or neutral soaps, as well as specific wipes for cleaning, such as Systane Lid Wipes , are good options.

Do not scratch or bring dirty hands to your eyes

The itch arises and it is almost inevitable to bring your hands to your eyes. However, a number of microorganisms can invade the eye region and cause irritation.

Sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an infectious agent, but just a product – such as cream or gel alcohol – that is responsible for the irritation.

Make compresses

Irritated eyes can be improved by applying cold compresses. The ideal is not to use any chemical substance, only filtered water.

It is possible to apply with cotton or clean cloth, leaving the compress to act for a few minutes.

Avoid sharing objects

Makeups, face towels, brushes and eye drops themselves should not be shared, as they can favor the transmission of infectious agents.

Eye drops for dogs

The eyes are sensitive regions even for pets. Like us, they also suffer from pollution, dry weather or changes in tear production.

In addition, there are those cases in which the dog has been affected by an infection or allergy, and it is necessary to use medications such as antibiotics or corticosteroids.

There are a number of eye drops made especially to take care of the health of the pets’ eyes, so it is always important to consult the veterinarian to check the need and the best option.

But it is necessary to remember that, even after diagnosis and purchase of the drug, the problem may not be solved. That’s because applying eye drops to the dog can be a bit more complicated task.

But some tips can make it easier, making the owner and the pet more comfortable:

  • Sanitize your hands;
  • Keep all necessary materials and products nearby (eye drops, cotton, towel);
  • Embrace or envelop the dog, so that he cannot leave;
  • Hold the head or place your hands under the muzzle, keeping the head still;
  • Carefully pull the lower eyelid so that it forms a small pouch;
  • Put the drops in the bag and release the dog.

Common questions

Can I buy eye drops without a prescription?

In some cases, it can be dangerous to buy eye drops without the doctor’s advice. Find out why:

Can I use two eye drops together?

If the ophthalmologist has prescribed it, you can. The ideal is always to talk to the specialist to check which are the best times to drip each one.

When joint use is necessary, as Francielle Tatiana Mathias, Ph.D.

Can eye drops pose a risk to vision?

-Yeah . Like other medications, the inappropriate or unnecessary use of eye drops can affect eye health.

According to Dr. Liliane Back Ferré, an ophthalmologist at the Hospital de Olhos do Paraná, used irregularly, they can lead to irreversible damage to vision.

Among the conditions, damage to the cornea can occur with the irregular use of some eye drops with corticosteroids, or even bacterial resistance, in cases of antibiotics.

The PhD in Pharmacology, Francielle Tatiana Mathias, also points out that even those products that can be purchased without a prescription need to be used with caution, as there may be sensitivity to the components or side effects.

Can I store and use the same eye drops?

Although antibiotics need a prescription, there are those who think it is worth saving the drug in case another infection occurs in the future.

However, there are risks associated with the action and that should not be ignored.

First, only a professional can assess the condition and diagnose the bacterial infection.

Although the symptoms are often similar, the conditions are not always treated in the same way or with the same drugs.

Another risk factor is that open eye drops can be infected by external agents or even contaminated by the bacteria that cause the disease. This causes the use of the product to put eye health at risk.

Finally, the lack of care in storage and the expiration date can be affected by changing the product. Therefore, the ideal is to never store the drops for future infections or needs .

If necessary, you must consult a doctor and follow the guidance.

Contact lens solution is eye drops?

No . They are ideal for cleaning and storing lenses, preventing drying and contamination.

There are also several options, which can be indicated only to prevent the product from drying out, in addition to cleaning and removing lipids and proteins . Among the solutions are: Opti-Free RepleniSH , Opti-Free Puremoist , Opti-Free Express and Clear Care .

These products are not formulated to be applied to the eyes, as Dr. Liliane Back Ferré points out.

They “ contain compounds developed specifically for cleaning the material that is made in the contact lens, and not for the ocular surface. The use can alter the balance of the tear and damage the eyes or even the vision ”, he says.

The use of eye drops can be very beneficial to eye health as long as the recommendations for use are always guided by the professional.

Often, if used indiscriminately, they can bring risks to the patient. Therefore, medical guidance is essential.

Read more tips and information in the Healthy Minute!